Why emotion is crucial to create brand advocates — and what you can do about it
How do you build loyal brand advocates? Contributor Jim Dicso says it's all about stepping up your customer experience efforts to give your brand a competitive advantage.
If you could generate six times your revenue, would you? For marketing executives, this question is a no-brainer. The challenging part is answering this follow-up question: How?
Recent research from Forrester provides a potential answer. Last year, the analyst firm found that customer experience (CX) is a key driver of revenue growth, and the brands that do it best bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors that lag in such efforts.
If you work in an industry where customers are free to take their business elsewhere, and your competitors offer better CX options, you need to pay attention.
As a consumer, you understand a lot about brand loyalty.
- If you spend most of your travel dollars with JetBlue…
- If the devices on your desk, in your pocket and on your wrist are all made by Apple…
- If the bulk of the footwear in your closet comes from Nike…
… then you know what it is to be a die-hard fan of a product or service. Learn how you can funnel your understanding as a consumer into your practice as a marketer to build loyal brand advocates for your company.
Step 1: Get personal and be supportive
Personalization tools have come a long way since the days of sticking a customer’s first name on a message template and calling it a day.
However, the ability to identify a single data point about customers or track their movements through website cookies is too impersonal to yield positive results.
Instead, focus on delivering an engaging, entertaining experience that is supportive of their goals — not yours. The closer you can emulate a human-to-human exchange, the better you can demonstrate your brand’s respect for customers as individuals who want to be heard, understood and respected.
Step 2: Don’t mistake interfaces for experiences
It’s important to make it easy for customers to reach you from whatever device they choose, but don’t make the assumption that your customer interface is doing the job of creating an experience. CX must have an emotional factor in order to build lasting relationships with customers and turn them into brand advocates.
The combination of sight, sound and motion inherent in video makes it the most compelling way to do this. When our client, Atlantis Paradise Island, sends people a personalized video itinerary before they arrive for a scheduled vacation, for example, it creates a lot of emotion (“I can’t wait for this trip!”), and that emotion often leads to follow-on sales (“Ooo, let’s add a dive with dolphins!”).
Step 3: Anticipate customer needs, and fulfill them before you’re asked
Customers want the brands with which they do business to respect their time. Digital-first companies like Amazon demonstrate recognition of this with features such as its product recommendation engine.
The moment a customer puts a crib sheet in her cart, for example, Amazon is busy suggesting what she might want next: a play yard, a car seat, diapers and so forth.
That feature increases sales for Amazon, but it does so in a way that recognizes and meets the customer’s needs — the moment she recognizes them herself.
The right time for audiences of one
Marketers can now overlay multiple data points to get a truly individualized look at their customers. What you learn about your audiences’ demographics, product usage, life cycle stage, buying history, channel preferences and more can help you move engagement efforts from the segmentation level to the one-to-one level.
Even with the technology in place to analyze this information in real time, marketers need to remember that CX is about more than data. To create an experience that keeps customers steadfast in their loyalty and boosts your bottom line, you also need to engage, entertain and serve.